Parents of a 6 year old girl, Bhavik Rathod and Tripti Ahuja were baffled by how quickly their child adopted e-learning during the coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown. As parents, it basically made them believe that the future of education was going to be hybrid.
It was their first signal to bring back to the table an idea they had been brooding for a long time. The plan was not to build a routine edtech platform centered on the regular curriculum, but to get out of schools and stimulate a “child’s right brain.”
The couple knew there was a “huge opportunity” in “Learning after school”. With everything going digital, they wanted to bring online extra-curricular activities but at the same time without compromising on hands-on learning, sharing and the fun side of things.
This led to the founding of the duo’s first business Kyt Academy, which was eventually renamed DIY.org, following the acquisition of the latter. The platform is part YourStory Tech50 list of promising startups in the start-up phase.
DIY follows a unique project-based learning approach and has built a large library of content, including lessons, videos and “how-to” projects, live workshops and contests, for kids to learn and explore new skills.
For example, after subscribing to the platform, a child can choose to learn gardening where they will be guided through the process of growing seedlings, planting an outdoor garden, and making compost, in addition to the other challenges listed on the DIY skills page.
The unique proposition here is the social community factor. As a result of the projects, children can simultaneously share their work in a moderated community to get feedback from peers and mentors, which maintains the learning momentum.
Bhavik and Tripti began exploring space in the early 2020s and began by understanding the problem from a parent’s perspective.
“We spoke with parents around the world and found that nine out of 10 parents were looking for opportunities in which they could involve their children after school to help them learn new skills. However, they were very limited in their access to such activities outside the school curriculum, ”says Bhavik, who was the founding leader of Uber India and former head of Uber eats, India and South Asia.
Tripti, on the other hand, has built a career in marketing, branding and consumer insight and has previously worked with organizations such as Rizort, Comet Global Consulting, Covalent Marketing, Sapient, and Customer Centrica. She previously founded the online exhibition platform exibit.in (which closed its stores in 2016) and also co-founded the e-commerce platform 400 THINGS.
By exploring white space, the couple spawned their first business— Kyt Technologies, an edtech platform offering extracurricular courses for children aged 5 to 16. The classes were a combination of live lessons with video review material curated by experts ranging from dance, chess, creative writing, musical instruments, yoga, and public speaking.
“The idea was to create a platform that will offer life skills pedagogy and a project-based learning platform built in India for the world. There are very few edtech companies, especially in India, that help children learn new skills after school. We thought why not take this problem statement and solve this for our own daughter. ”
In September 2020, the official website was launched under the name Kyt Academy.
Less than a month after its launch, the Bengaluru-based startup has managed to create a buzz in the market and have attracted interest from investors. He continued to raise his seed round from $ 2 million (Rs 14.5 crore), led by The surge of Sequoia Capital India followed by a capital injection of $ 5 million (Rs 36.5 crore) in a Series A funding round in January 2021, led by Incubation of alpha waves through Falcon’s Edge Capital and the participation of January capital, Titan capital, angel investors Kunal Shah, Amrish Rau, Jiten Gupta, Anand Chandrasekharan, among others.
In February 2021, Kyt Technologies acquired San Francisco-based project-based learning platform DIY.org (founded by the creator of Vimeo Zach Klien) and merged the activities of the two companies. With the acquisition, Kyt Academy was renamed in ‘DIY – A learning community ‘ and relaunched in May 2021.
Learning by doing
The platform follows a ‘learning by doing’ approach and define itself as a “social media platform for children to share these learnings”.
Each project follows a three step approach – watch the video, complete the activity (as guided) and share your craft creation with other learners to interact and earn experience points (to inspire and encourage children to do better) for the skills they they acquire.
These videos are “totally unfiltered” and narrated by the children themselves. They can be seen taking viewers through their garden plots, explaining the value of compost, how to grow a compost heap, how composting works and how they will use it in their garden and many similar examples.
“It’s both heartwarming and exciting to see the comments section filled with kids and parents inspiring each other on small projects,” says Bhavin, who aspires to make DIY the largest community in line of children learning together about the world. The startup uses feedback from parents and kids to design new courses or make changes to existing courses.
The platform offers more than 32 lessons including chess, drawing, language reading, science lessons and 3, 700 + projects / challenges, over more than 160 life skills such as critical thinking, communication skills, decision making and social abilities.
It leads approximately 20-30 live workshops every day led by expert mentors and instructors. He recently launched TV shows like Fun Fact Factory, DIY X CartoonNetwork, Outsiders Club, Pets Paradise and Busy Body on his YouTube channel.
The startup has partnered with several educators and artists, including yoga teacher Merchant Sabrina and Filipino hip-hop artist Ruel varindani and failures Grand Master Vidit Gujrathi, to create lessons with an age-appropriate approach.
“We’re adding one or two classes every week. Everything on our platform is designed to entice the child to go out, take on a project and do the activity himself, ”says Bhavik.
Private life is carefully protected, assures the startup. There are no ads on the platform, which is Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) compliant. It is extremely controlled to keep it suitable for children and to avoid bullying.
Income and traction
The platform follows a subscription-based business model. It offers a 30-day free trial before subscribing to a monthly or annual plan of $ 7.99 (around Rs 600) and $ 79.99 (around Rs 6000), respectively. Each parent can add up to four children in the same plan.
According to the founders, 45% of its users opt for the annual subscription, and 67% of its paying customers are from North America, followed by Asia and Europe.
Standing at a Evaluation of $ 25 million With an annual recurring revenue (ARR) of 0.8, DIY has accumulated over 14,400 customers in over 160 countries. It has doubled its subscribers since August 2021, specify the founders.
It faces direct competition from the US-based edutech platform Extra-curricular school and Tract.app. In India, the market is picking up with startups like QShala and First row building their platforms around extracurricular learning activities.
The road ahead
DIY works with a long term goal reach a subscriber base of 5 million children worldwide and earn an ARR of $ 200 million. The platform is currently available in English and will introduce other languages soon in the near future.
“By the end of 2022, we plan to increase its ARR to $ 4 million with a subscriber base of 100,000 children worldwide,” Bhavik said.
DIY is seeing increased traction from developing countries, especially India. “The indian market is growing very rapidly. We run some of our live courses in India. But at present, we maintain a world game, which is also our strength, ”he adds.
the market size for extracurricular and extra-curricular learning in the United States only is estimated to touch $ 23.4 billion in 2021, according to the design office IBISWorld. The increased penetration of smartphones and the internet has also led to an increase in its adoption in developing countries, including India who should reach $ 5.8 billion in 2021 and is expected to increase in the coming years, reveals a study conducted by students of IIM-Kozhikode.
The start was good organic growth over the past few months and is continuously working on adding new projects, courses and content to maintain a high level of engagement.
Their neat domain name can be a ditch that can boost their brand and lower their cost of acquiring new customers and grow quickly. In addition, there is a lack of hands-on learning in current teaching pedagogy and there is a better perception among parents for online options and looking to explore beyond Youtube channels and find more platforms. commitment.